It’s no secret that university technology commercialization is flourishing. Corporate sponsorship of university research has grown over 50% in the last few years, universities reported almost double the number of start-ups compared to a decade ago, and we have witnessed year-on-year, sustained growth in licensing activity.
The latest survey by AUTM clearly demonstrated that TTOs are more productive than ever before. While these results may not be surprising to corporate tech scouts and university TTOs, there were hidden gems in the survey results that are worth highlighting.
The most surprising result was a widening range in licensing revenue across institutions. The survey results revealed Wellspring users reported 46% more licensing revenue. But this article is not about that specifically.
The increasing disparity in income holds even when normalizing revenue by number of licenses, research dollars, the presence of a medical school and other factors. Of course, there are always “long tails,” the handful of inventions that lead to outsized royalties. Yet, we still see wide ranges in licensing revenue even after removing the blockbusters.
What then separates the successful licensing programs? It turns out, highly successful licensing programs build from a truly integrated marketing program.
Finding the Right Licensee is More Challenging Than Ever
Tech Transfer professionals are constantly tasked to identify the best possible organization to commercialize early-stage technologies. This task becomes increasingly difficult in searching through a sea of companies. These “prospecting” challenges are further exacerbated by platform technologies whose applications span industries.
We have all learned over the years that it takes a few dates to know if the “licensing marriage” is just right. Only one or two companies for a highly promising technology have the resources, brand, and market experience to develop the best possible product. Yet, the resources devoted to other important tasks (cultivating disclosures, managing IP, shepherding new companies, and a seemingly endless reporting cycle) limit time and energy available to focus efforts on searching for and partnering with the best licensee.
Successful Tech Transfer Offices use Integrated Marketing Automation
Since TTOs must manage their pipeline of opportunities effectively in order to find the perfect licensing agreement for a particular technology, it is important that their outreach efforts are targeted. We categorized the AUTM data based on whether universities have integrated marketing systems to manage their pipeline of opportunities as part of their technology transfer platform. We call them Integrated Marketers: Campuses who have and actively use technology software specifically for CRM, events, and mailings as part of their TTO applications.
The results were astounding. It turns out that Integrated Marketers reported 3.5X more licensing revenue overall and 24% more revenue per license on average!
In speaking with a number of these TTOs, it’s clear that being marketing-driven isn’t a function of whether there is a dedicated marketing department or staff. Successful licensing arises from whether there are systematic processes that focus on the use of CRM and event management tools in concert with disclosure, IP, and agreement management. By integrating robust unified marketing tools with their technology management software, TTOs are able to focus on the most important task, prospecting for and collaborating with licensees.
With a marketing management system in place, Integrated Marketers had more efficiency and cost-savings for the tech transfer office. Previously, clouded by the multitude of licensees, these TTOs are now able to gain clear insight into who they should be reaching out to in order to pursue the best deal possible, subsequently leading to more licensing revenue per license.
3 Key Steps Successful TTOs Take with Marketing Automation
- Leverage marketing tools to save time and focus on the right activities
- Find the right licensee for the best opportunity per license
- Market their patents online
In summary, we learned that it has become more challenging than ever for TTOs to find the right licensee, and it is clear that the successful TTOs have integrated robust marketing tools into their technology management software for multi-touch, multi-channel engagement as part of their prospecting and collaborating with licensees’ activities. To keep up with the pace of licensing activity at universities, it is key not only to take advantage of automation, but also have a strategy behind it. By leveraging marketing tools and focusing on the right licensee for the best opportunity per license, TTOs excel at increasing revenue.
Learn more about integrating a marketing tool with your tech transfer software.
 Association of University Technology Managers, AUTM Licensing Activity Survey FY2014 and enriched with 3rd party data